UFR will go up tomorrow. FYI.
It's raining wallpaper. As per usual. This one is from jonvalk:
This week in bowl parasitism. Bowl games are parasites on college football designed to bleed as much money from the system as they can get away with. Thanks to the interest levels provided by the teams—not the stadiums or locations—some of them do actually pump money into the system (although far less money than an NCAA controlled playoff would). The latest example of this:
The Fiesta Bowl has a deal with the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau that pays the bowl hundreds of thousands of tax dollars a year in return for requiring participating teams to stay in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley resorts.
The bowl says the agreement is strictly legal and good business for all parties involved.
But it may increase the cost for schools playing in the Fiesta Bowl and BCS Championship Game, because they are required to stay a certain number of nights at high-end hotels.
The bowl, according to records obtained by The Arizona Republic, received $491,340 from the Scottsdale CVB this past college-bowl season when the Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon and Auburn football programs stayed in Scottsdale-area resorts for the Fiesta Bowl and Bowl Championship Series title game, respectively.
Legal or not, that's a half-million dollars of overhead from the payment alone and however much more from the monopoly lock in the payment provides. We can ballpark how much this is from UConn's trip to the Fiesta last year:
UConn also has a hotel obligation — a total of 550 rooms at three different hotels ranging in price from $125-225 a night, not including tax, with blocks reserved for either three or seven nights.
Without the lock-in teams could put the band in six rooms at the Super Eight and save themselves a bucket of money. The Sugar does this as well. Their defense is "this is legal," which is true but beside the point.
If bowls are going to exist they should be worthwhile businesses without heaping unnecessary expenses on the participating teams. This is a relatively piddly expense relative to ticket guarantees that erase payouts and leave cash-strapped programs with a net deficit, but it just shows how much of a racket bowls are. Not that you needed to be told that when the Michigan-OSU game featured Rose Bowl reps when the combined chance of either team making it to Pasadena was zero percent.
Crose enough*! Andy Staples has an article about the Big 12's sudden, unsurprising opinion flip in re: an expanded playoff field. It promises change:
Monday, Big 12 athletic directors voted in a straw poll to get behind the idea of a plus-one format that would allow four teams to compete for the national title. Such a format would have allowed USC to play for the national title in 2003, Auburn to play for it in 2004, Texas to play for it in 2008 and Oklahoma State -- which finished behind No. 2 Alabama by the slimmest of margins in the BCS standings -- to play for the title this season. If the league's presidents choose to agree with their athletic directors, the Big 12's support would be a huge step forward. The Big 12 was one of several leagues that blocked SEC commissioner Mike Slive's 2008 proposal for a four-team, seeded tournament. The ACC was the only conference that supported the plan.
With Larry Scott now creating the future in earnest in the Pac-12, the major remaining obstacle to a playoff is one of these two men.
Left: Lando Mollari. Right: Jim Delany
Jim Delany still hates the Narn with all his heart.
“Our view is we’d like to stay where we are,” Delany told the Tribune. “We do believe in the slippery slope theory.”
You should have thought of that before you joined the BCS, dude. As soon as the dumbest playoff in history was instituted, outrage started piling up. As soon as the sanctity of the Rose Bowl was undermined, erosion got busy. The levees are about to break.
If conference leaders are smart, they'll design a plan that allows for the two semifinal games to be played on the home fields of the No. 1- and No. 2-seeded teams. If they wanted to appease the must-win-your-league crowd, they could require that a team must win its conference to host a semifinal. Home-site semifinals would eliminate concerns about fan bases traveling twice -- a non-starter -- and would help reinforce the importance of the regular season. Teams would go into the final week fighting for a home game in a sport where home-field advantage means a lot. Just imagine an LSU-Stanford semifinal at Tiger Stadium or an Alabama-Oklahoma State semifinal in Stillwater (using the must-win-conference rule). Also, to remove the negative consequences of a semifinal loss, the two losing teams would be placed into premium bowls, where they could take a well-deserved victory lap for a great season. This would appease bowl executives, who for some unknown reason strike fear into the hearts of the people who run the sport.
One day people will wake up and realize that doofs in yellow jackets getting paid is not in the best interests of the sport. Think Of The Children.
As Witherspoon jumps out to hedge, Trey Burke puts on the brakes and changes direction with a between the legs dribble. All within a split of a second. This makes the play right here. The change of direction gives him another screen but also has his defender back up and lose attachment.
All Trey has to do now is get to the outside of Barton’s left leg and he will get in the lane.
It's Picture Pages for basketball. All we've got now is a superior use of the crop tool.
So exactly right. There was a point a few years ago when I railed almost weekly against the relentless stenography that mainstream coverage had degenerated into. It was the bubble screen of 2007. I dropped six months after that hobby-horse expired, but when an ESPN vet like Tim Keown lays into the modern press conference I cannot resist a very long blockquote:
The death of the interview has spawned a generation raised on generalities and clichés. Caution is a lesson [Titans QB Matt] Hasselbeck has learned many times, most recently after the Titans beat the Colts on Oct. 30, when he was asked -- or told, he can't remember the phrasing -- to compare current teammate Chris Johnson with former Seahawks teammate Shaun Alexander. In Hasselbeck's view, it was a question with "a negative vibe" -- his pet peeve.
What followed was an instructive look into the void left in the interview's wake. Hasselbeck, attempting to answer the question honestly, said he did see similarities: two great running backs who followed MVP-caliber seasons with "normal" years. He was attempting to make the point that both players were victims of unfair expectations, because nobody can be expected to perform at an MVP level every season. "It's hard to be elite every year," he said.
Predictably, he was seen as "ripping" Johnson and "throwing him under the bus." … The question was legitimate. Johnson, a former offensive player of the year and recent signee of a huge contract, had been booed at home in much the same way former MVP Alexander was when his production dropped off after he signed a huge contract. The answer, as far as it went, was legitimate as well. What was missing was context, and before Hasselbeck could massage his message, he was hit with a new question and the group conversation -- such as it was -- moved on.
"If I were Chris Johnson, I would have wondered, 'Why is my quarterback saying this about me?'" Hasselbeck says. "Everyone knows how the Shaun Alexander story ended in Seattle, so it looked like I was ripping Chris Johnson." The subsequent coverage centered on Hasselbeck's "unflattering" comparison between the two running backs. "I was asked a negative question, and instead of being a jerk I gave an honest answer," he says.
His solution? Be boring. "It's a headline-driven world, and what I said provided a headline," he says. "That's why I'm guarded, cautious. I don't want to accidentally give bulletin-board material. If someone asks me about a player, I say, 'He's a great player.' If they ask me about a coach, I say, 'He's a great coach.' "
The problem is finding which section to blockquote since all of it is deadly accurate. It starts "BEHOLD THE DECOMPOSED REMAINS of the sports interview" and is probably 3000 words long. It's worth the read.
The local spin comes in two parts. Part one: boy is it nice to have a coach with his banalities down pat. Rich Rodriguez may have gotten unfairly pilloried for his "get a life" statement, which was ripped out of context like Hasselbeck's statement was, but he was a magnet for that kind of stuff. Hoke hasn't had a misstep yet; he's settled into a comfort zone where the media is his lapdog, and that won't change. If things start going poorly the media will be defending Hoke and scorning fans until it's over.
Part two: Michigan's suddenly better about this than most schools with their coordinator pressers and the relatively straight answers given in there, especially from Mattison.
Etc.: Gobbler Country profiles Michigan, which is us. More on this later, but Chris Brown's long-ago profile of the Hokie D is remarkably useful since it's about how they've adapted to the spread. UMHoops talks Oakland with a Summit League blogger.
The conference championships are completed and it's not that one year Vince Young played USC, so the BCS's answer is a stupid one. Yes. Yes, it is that time again.
this "On Notice" board from 2006 is remarkably apropos today save for the hatred directed at random SEC mediocrities who failed to beat Florida
If the BCS hadn't popped out of its mother in midair above a dorsal fin, this would be the moment when it jumped the shark. Since it did we have to invent a new term for a terrible thing everyone hates reaching maximum troll. The BCS just Clay Travised all over us.
Anyway, every year at this time I pull out the MGoPlayoff proposal. I don't do this in any real hope it will make a difference, since anyone who could assemble our current system will botch a playoff just as badly. I don't really know why I do it. Maybe it makes me feel better—yes, there is a hypothetical version of college football that makes a goddamn lick of sense.
CREATE A SINGLE TEAM WITH THE DEFINITIVELY BEST RESUME. College football is unique amongst sports in that the national title is essentially decided by eyeballing it. The only thing the BCS changed was to take the one team people used to eyeball and turn it into two. Hinton:
What we should be asking instead is, why does college football and college football alone insist on wedging itself into this ridiculous corner year after year? When did we concede to leave the results of a sport to a cacophonous, ill-informed debating society? How have we convinced ourselves that dragging statistics and resumés and eyeball tests to the podium — along with preconceived biases that trump them all — can possibly deliver a satisfying answer?
Obviously, it can't. Any answer to an unanswerable question is the wrong answer.
Literally every observer who has ever laid eyes on the Bowl Championship Series has mocked it as an absurd anachronism, and continues to mock it to this day. Rightly so. Every sane observer within the sport has mocked it as an absurd anachronism. Seriously: Voting on the better football team? Are we still doing this? We're really going to do it again? Deferring to polls and algorithms in a competition that keeps score? Why are we still doing this?
Because of the unique structure of college football, a playoff can be constructed to be inherently satisfying. That is: you can make something that always leaves one team alone atop a pile of skulls no one else in the country can match. This is obviously not the case right now.
The key components!
RESTRICTED FIELD. No 9-3 teams. Maintain as much of the importance of the regular season as possible. Keep out anyone who could win three straight and still reasonably have an AP vote go against them.
HOME GAMES. Helps with attendance, prevents people from having to travel multiple weeks, helps maintain importance of regular season, makes the guys at the bottom wade through a tougher task and helps bolster their pile-of-skulls argument.
BYES. Again, importance of regular season and pile-of-skulls argument.
NO AUTOBIDS, MAX TWO TEAMS PER CONFERENCE. Autobids can suck it. So can third place teams in their own conference. Also no first round intraconference matchups.
FINAL AT THE ROSE BOWL. Iconic. Would become one of the great traditions in American sports.
This year's version based on the final BCS standings:
1. LSU vs winner of 4. Stanford and 7. Boise State
2. Alabama vs winner of 3. Oklahoma State and 5. Oregon
Arkansas is left out because of the two-teams-per-conference rule; Boise and Oregon flip to prevent a conference matchup. The first two games would be this weekend with the second round on January 1st (2nd this year) and the final a week after. Anyone outside of the final four can go to whatever bowl they want, so this hardly touches the bowl system. The net result is removing one BCS bowl in favor of the playoff.
An eight team version of this is less ideal but also acceptable; that would see Kansas State and Wisconsin on the road in the first round against the SEC teams. Autobids are awful. Clemson and West Virginia can win three straight games here and still not be as worthy as LSU.
The pointlessness of existence!
Don't bother telling me it's not happening. I know.
After the jump: blogpoll ballot time. Sure to endear me to Alabama fans even more.
I would pay in diamonds if this was Michigan related. Someone found this in Thailand:
Thailand: not just for sex tourism anymore. That is amazing. The people who take these pictures immediately clean out the store, right?
Well, you can't say never anymore. Since Dave Brandon created The Horror II there is no nonconference scheduling scenario that you can entirely rule out. A six-game series with Washington State on the moon? Someone call Richard Branson to see if that's been floated.
Still, this seems pretty implausible:
"His expression to me was he felt he had a better chance to win the national championship at Arizona [than Tulane] if he recruited properly and they promised him they would put Michigan on the schedule within three years."
That's a Louisiana high school explaining to Tulane boosters why Rich Rodriguez took the Arizona job over Tulane. (He could have just gone with "duh.") So this is a second-hand account of a one-sided promise that Arizona may or may not have actually offered presumably made without actually talking to anyone in Ann Arbor, involving Michigan playing a real nonconference opponent.
If there wasn't a risk of enormous humiliation I'd say there was a zero percent chance of that happening. Since there is, ballpark it at 10%.
Michigan was never able to find an offensive rhythm against Virginia’s Packline defense. The Wolverines scored just .93 points per trip despite shooting 45 percent from three point range. Michigan, obviously bothered by Virginia’s physical play, was unable to convert the two point shots that carried the offense in Maui and converted just 42% of its two point looks. That lackluster two point shooting was accompanied by first half turnover woes and little to no production on either the offensive glass or at the free throw line.
Dylan says the offense "devolved into glorified isolation plays most of the night," and it's hard to disagree.
I am surprise. The guy who runs the book at the Wynn on Hypothetical Sugar Bowl Everyone Is Projecting:
SUGAR BOWL, JAN. 3
Michigan Wolverines (+4.5) vs. Houston Cougars
“The Cougar football program gets center stage for the first time,” Avello said. “The Wolverines have struggled in bowl games losing eight of their last 10.”
Houston's offensive numbers are gaudy as all git out but the one BCS team they played was UCLA, who they scraped by 38-34. I'd think that line would go the other way.
That's the ticket. The #1 Meyer won't destroy us theory is that he doesn't scout, choosing instead to use recruiting lists from the gurus and annihilating the programs he leaves with his crappy recruiting. That's grasping at straws, as all reasons Meyer will not succeed are, but given what went down with Jerimy Finch I think you can make the case Meyer recruits a lot of flakes. Por ejemplo:
One day after the coach who recruited them to Florida was introduced as the new boss at Ohio State, once-hyped recruits Joshua Shaw and Lyndren Trail announced plans to transfer from Gainesville, making them the ninth and tenth members of Urban Meyer's 2010 recruiting class to leave the team in less than two years.
Florida's roster is down to 68 scholarship players. A bunch (11) have taken off since Muschamp arrived, but Jebus, man.
Speaking of flakes, Rich Rodriguez and Urban Meyer are desperately clawing to hire… Tim Brewster. TRY FIGHT WHAT
Hatchdate. Hatch will not play high school basketball this season:
"Austin continues to make great strides in his rehabilitation; this first year is vital to the recovery process," the statement begins. "As a result, it is unlikely that Austin's physicians will clear him to play basketball this season."
I assume this means he's reclassifying to 2014, which would clear any scholarship logjam in future seasons unless no one goes pro or transfers before the 2013 class hits campus—unlikely to say the least.
With the Poke and the man. Oh, good lord, Michigan just recruited a 1996-born hockey player. His name is Dylan Larkin and all you get is stats:
His 13 goals this season is tops on the team, which leads the Great Lakes Division of the MWEHL with a 14-0-3 record. The next highest on the team has 9 goals. He's also second in points (Kyle Connor has 21). Surprisingly, only one of his 13 goals has come on special teams, so he's getting it done at even strength. He also leads the team with 4 game-winning goals.
This is because he is a 2014, Michigan's first. Presumably he's pretty good.
In other hockey news, crap crap crap crap crap. Michigan's losing streak has hit four, the defense is totally clueless, Hunwick isn't exactly bad but he's not playing to last year's standard, and a lot of the games have embarrassingly thin crowds. It's not so good.
Not having Merrill is obviously a big problem. Brennan Serville had his pocket picked for Union's second goal Sunday and sat until the 13 minute mark of the third period. Their third pairing is terrifying and I'm not so sure about the second one, honestly. Not skating Burlon in the title game and the fallout from that, plus the Merrill thing has turned the defense corps from the deepest in the country to one pairing and then Katie bar the door. I don't even know, man. Michigan plays a Michigan State team this weekend that's not much better on paper but has actually won some games recently; if I'm back in the MGoDitch feebly trying to have a real good time after this weekend you know what happened.
The bombs, even more targeted. Dan Wetzel wrote "Death to the BCS," so his take on the latest BCS debacle is not a surprise. It is also not wrong:
No matter what it says, the BCS is not a system designed to choose a championship matchup. It is merely a tool to stave off the inevitable playoff bowl directors fear will cut into their millions in tax-free profits, a casino-style distraction to placate the masses.
It is what it is, and until it collapses (even a four-teamer is a major, positive step), college football is stuck.
That said, if the BCS somehow survives in its current incarnation, the formula to determine 1-2 must be scrapped.
It currently consists of two-thirds human opinion polls that are ripe for political foolishness, full of oft-uneducated voters and subject to groupthink.
I'm waiting for the championship games to play out before doing the Official Tedious Thing I always do around this time, but imagine a six-team playoff with no autobids with the first two rounds played at home sites and the final at the Rose Bowl. Tentative version of that this year:
1. LSU vs 4. Oregon/5.Wisconsin
2. Alabama vs. 3. Oklahoma State/6. Stanford
Or something along those lines. What matters? This weekend. Who can complain about the outcome of that? No one. What does it do the bowl system? Hardly anything. What does it do to the importance of the regular season? Increases it.
Bowls are parasites on college football.
Etc.: Spencer Hall hits up the last Texas-Texas A&M game. Bust details. Rumors that Dayne Crist is going to use the fifth-year transfer rule to become Wisconsin's next free agent quarterback abound. The Big Ten has denied they are employing seat fillers for the championship game, which is true in a narrow technical sense only.
I guess I can't be mad at the Dispatch any more. Because we're doing it to ourselves:
If it motivates the players, great. I never want to see it again.
That's one way to put it. How are things on the Michigan State offensive line? Deep. Peachy. Deeply peachy:
Spartans depth sparks offensive line competition
This is their depth:
Converted defensive tackle Dan France has emerged as the leading candidate at left tackle, but the battle at center and right tackle are far from decided.
Redshirt freshman Travis Jackson and junior Blake Treadwell, another converted defensive tackle, are running neck-and-neck at center, while redshirt freshman Skyler Burkland and junior college transfer Fou Fonoti are fighting for the top spot at right tackle.
Er. France was flipped from OT to DT last year despite being 6'6" and now returns to be the starting left tackle. That is a hell of a position switch starter. This was his status in January:
"But in the bowl practice, I was struggling," he said. "I didn’t know the (blocking) techniques and footwork. I never had done pass blocking before. I mean, I sort of did (at tight end) in high school, but I didn’t have any technique or really know what I was doing."
Kirk Cousins might be under siege this year. Let's hope so, because if someone were to bold Michigan's secondary it wouldn't be much prettier.
Hey, here's a Michigan football coach talking. I wonder if he's going to talk about "violence," "toughness," "being physical," and "being consistent":
No, he mostly talked about cheese. Cheese and Will Campbell's pad level.
Of course not. Some news organization I can't be bothered to look up—oh this article says it's the Seattle Times—posted the shocking news there was a Pac-10/Big 10 "consensus" in favor of a plus one game. This was shocking for a little while until it was debunked. Or at least sort of debunked. Check out Jim Delany's reply to that:
"To describe the ADs as supportive, I would call that erroneous," Delany said.
Masterful weaseling right there. This on further expansion, at least, is a straightforward declaration they're not interested:
"No, we're about as comfortable as we can be with where we are," Delany said. "We've said we will continue to monitor the landscape, but we have closed down active expansion. Every period you look at it, but we don't expect anything the SEC does to affect us."
I'm increasingly irritated at the media reports predicting Superconferenceageddon without bothering to figure out whether adding teams like Pitt and Missouri helps or hurts the bottom line. The burden of proof is on people predicting unwieldy, tradition-hurting behemoths but all we get is "this is totally happening because it's an arms race!"
Yes, yes, TV markets blah blah. At times like these I think about Lloyd Carr in his last couple years sighing disgustedly whenever the subject of money came up in press conferences. He believed placing it above all other goals was destructive, he's looking prophetic at the moment.
Zing. I was just hoping Jerry Hinnen would drop some more twitter bombs on the SEC so I could post them up, and then he did:
Gotten the feeling that if Scott and Delany jumped off a bridge, SEC fans would gripe that Slive should have been the one jumping first. "We can't afford to react. You have to be proactive when it comes to bridge-jumping!"
Adding Nebraska had a purpose. Adding A&M to the SEC just dilutes it.
Downing disagreement. Retweets coming from Michigan Hockey Net and Yost Built over the course of the recent Five Nations tournament were rapturous about 2013 D commit (and team captain) Michael Downing. Examples from tourney observer @twharry:
The difference between Downing and DeAngelo is vast. I had no idea Downing was this good. He plays like a vet.
Michael Downing is having another very strong two-way game. Comparing him to Merrill may be unfairly lofty, but they are strikingly similar.
Breakaway going the other way. DeAngelo was way out of position. Luckily Downing was there to cover and Demko made the stop.
FWIW, talked to an ex-teammate of Downing today from CC - said he's the real deal, nat. skill set but little rough around the edges at times
When one of my friends checked out the Friday game he compared Downing to Nick Lidstrom. Apparently the US team was so confident in his positioning they would often send the other defenseman up the ice to pressure the Swiss. A local diary praised his game as well.
So of course a couple scouting reports are mixed at best, contradict the above, and contradict each other. WCH:
Michael Downing has had a very good summer--including locking down a scholarship to Michigan--which has helped turn him into one of the top defensive prospects in the US for his age group. He appears to have loads of potential with a big frame and nice skating, but still has a pretty long ways to go when it comes to decision-making and handling the puck. The pace of play here looked a little faster than what he was used to, which took him out of his comfort zone and forced him to make some bad turnovers. Not many players have things completely figured out by age 16 though, and with a little more experience, he has a chance to develop into a very nice player.
And the United States of Hockey:
Michael Downing - Canton, Mich. — The big defenseman served as the captain for this U.S. outfit. He’s pushing 6-foot-3, but has some good mobility and offensive instincts. Despite the size, however, Downing was getting out muscled and hit hard by smaller players. The more muscle he can tack on, the better in the coming years. He’ll also need to do a better job in his own end, but he appeared to improve defensively as the tournament went on. Despite the defensive deficiencies, I really liked his offensive game. If he can develop defensively, he could be a. pretty solid blueliner down the road. Draft eligible in 2013
Another Burns tweet did mention Downing needs to fill out quite a bit, so at least there's some consistency there. Downing maintains he's 110% committed to Michigan and is not a goalie, so he'll probably show up. I'm actually drawing a blank on the last Michigan D commit to skip out for the OHL before he hit campus. Seems like it's a F/G thing.
The Blip …is what I called the 2008 Wisconsin game in last year's Plays of the Decade feature. It was a briefly intoxicating lie about how good that team could be that presaged the less brief but no less deceitful starts the next two years; as such it's both an emblem and an enormous outlier.
Holdin' the Rope takes us way back when:
I sat and wondered how we could spring a comeback from so much flailing incompetence. I had faith, but it was that kind of belief that eats at itself if exposed to the light.. It's propped up by rubber bands and paper clips and a little bit of measured delusion and naivete.
Somehow, Michigan pulled itself together and willed themselves through a halfway decent touchdown drive in the third quarter, capped by Kevin Koger's first touchdown reception. A promise of a bright future. Michigan went down the field on the arm of Steven Threet, the legs of Sam McGuffie and Kevin Grady, and the hands of Martavious Odoms and Greg Mathews. Greg's last name only had one "t," but people managed to always get it wrong, and they probably still do. This wasn't Henson, Terrell, Walker, and A-Train. It wasn't Henne, Manningham, Arrington, and Hart. It wasn't Navarre, Braylon, Avant.
Etc.: Notre Dame is taking its sweet time figuring out where its hockey team is going to hang out. MGoMix is going with songs 1-5 and 6-10. Trailer for the Willis Ward movie is good. Shakin' the Southland's DrB talks 3-4, 4-3 under, and multiple fronts. Money quote:
In the one-gap 3-4, you have a blend of the 4-3 and the older two-gap system. You can take a guy that is a ‘tweener’ and put him at DE or OLB. You can take heavy interior linemen that are skilled at pass rushing, and put them at DE positions even if they don’t run 4.6-4.7 in the 40. The fact that it is a one-gap system and easier to teach means they can rush the passer without regard for the linebackers and put what talent they do have to good use.
I do not advocate the one-gap 3-4 over the 4-3, each has its uses. I do prefer the one-gap over the 2-gap version because it disguises the bubbles in the front better, and is simpler to teach. I'm all for adding fronts that simply teach guys new places to stand without actually changing everything they're doing. In most cases, the fronts are exactly the same, but with different personnel.
I'm not even going to check before I make this assertion: Get The Picture* has seized on last night's national championship game-type substance as an opportunity to tweak college football playoff advocates. Come on, baby…
Rainey on Charlie Weis’ excitement working with Florida’s pool of talent: “The first thing he said when he got here was that this is the most athletes he’s ever been around, so we felt good about that.”
Rainey on what to expect from the offense: “Fans are going to be happy again."
Well, if he's not going to do it I will: yeah, last night's game was a fiasco that resulted in a deeply unsatisfying champion. March Madness was too mad this year, leaving us with a 9-9 Big East team and a 13-5 Horizon team playing like DePaul and anyone else in the Horizon not named Cleveland State. I think we can say without qualification that the best team did not win this year. Whoever they were they didn't make the Final Four. At some point haters hating on a college football playoff will bring up whatever that was and say "QED."
That's a cost of a playoff, granted. But the NCAA tournament usually doesn't let it get that far. Over the past decade championship game participants have been almost universally great teams:
- 2009: Butler versus Duke. Butler was a Cinderella of sorts. They were also undefeated in the Horizon and had wins over
GeorgetownXavier and OSU; they were really good. They were 12th on Kenpom; this year's edition finished 41st. If having this year's Butler team make the final is a ding against playoffs, last year's Butler team making it shows a way in which basketball's system is vastly superior.
- 2008: UNC-Michigan State. UNC was a juggernaut that finished 34-4. Michigan State was 31-7 (with two of those losses to UNC) and won the Big Ten easily.
- 2007: Kansas-Memphis. Both one seeds from the chalk Final Four.
- 2006: Florida-OSU. OSU was 35-2 against teams not named Florida (like State they lost in the regular season to the eventual champion). Florida was 35-5. This was a very Kenpom final, as the teams were 2nd and 4th.
- 2005: Florida-UCLA. Florida was a three seed but finished the year #1 in Kenpom after their crushing tourney run. They ended up 33-6. UCLA was a two seed; they finished third.
- 2004: UNC-Illinois. Two dominant outfits, one seeds who finished 1-2 in Kenpom.
- 2003: Syracuse-Kansas. Kansas was a two seed that finished the year first in Kenpom. Champ Syracuse was a three that finished 7th. Their seeding was a little weird: they only lost five games before the tourney and had a couple of good nonconference wins to go with a very tough Big East schedule. It seems like they got dropped unfairly because they lost in their conference tourney.
- 2002: Maryland-Indiana. Kenpom ceases. Maryland was 32-4 and 15-1 in the ACC; Indiana was probably the most meh championship game participant in the last decade other than this year's duo, a 25-12 team that played a 12, a 13, Duke, and a 10 to reach the Final Four.
- 2001: Duke-Arizona. One-seed Duke ended up 35-4; Arizona was a two that beat one seeds consecutively to reach the final.
In the last decade three teams who shouldn't have been there reached the championship game, and one lost by 12 to a very deserving champion. The system has worked—found a more satisfying conclusion to the season than just having a poll—90% of the time over the past ten years. The BCS's strike rate… not so much.
Teams like Butler (last year), 2005 Florida, and 2003 Kansas who finished the year at or near the top of performance-based* computer rankings were given the opportunity to prove they were worthy of a title game appearance and did so; in football they'd have been shuffled off to some dork's personal fiefdom of waste and corruption. Fundamentally, the NCAA tournament works. It's not a system that makes sense for college football but it's the farthest thing from a failed playoff system in American sports.
*[I like Get the Picture a lot, FWIW, I just disagree with him wholly on playoffs. I poke because I respect. Disclaimers uber alles.]
**[As opposed to result-based. Margin of victory-ignorant systems like RPI and the BCS computers only consider results, not scores.]
Movin' on up. Prepare to be annoyed:
Michigan has increased ticket prices for the 2011 football season.
Individual game tickets will be $70 for games against Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, San Diego State, Minnesota and Purdue. The night game against Notre Dame, and the Nebraska and Ohio State games are considered "premium" games and will cost $85.
Michigan hasn't raised prices in seven years, so some increase was overdue but tickets went up slightly less than twenty dollars on average. I'm not sure how much more the market will bear, and neither is the U—they're offering partial season ticket packages now. Clearly they've eaten through most, if not all, of the waitlist and are now in a situation where they're going to have to get creative to fill the stadium.
Insert the usual muttering about short-term corporate thinking here.
This. Chunkums has been deployed:
Speaking of. I was extremely glad to see a post from Doctor Saturday titled "The worst thing about Jim Tressel" that coldly lays out why tatgate should be met with a much stronger response from the NCAA than OSU's two-game wrist tickling. I'm a partisan so the thought that my reaction to the affair is loony is always present. This helps mitigate that:
…not only did Tressel maintain his silence to the NCAA. Not only did he lie to reporters. Not only did he not cut his losses and take his medicine, like a humbled man who had already gotten away with something. Instead, he actively pushed the envelope to keep the ineligible players — now officially ruled ineligible by the NCAA — on the field. Like an inside man in a robbery watching his accomplices being led away in handcuffs, bailing them out of jail and coming back for the rest of the money anyway. (And then publicly lecturing them about their crime.) Ohio State treated winning the Sugar Bowl like an end to itself, a big score, and risked everything — or at least the first half of the 2011 season — to get it.
And it worked.
Hinton later says the NCAA "almost can't go far enough" after Ohio State hoodwinked them into allowing those guys to play in the Sugar Bowl. He's a Southern Miss alum who is the "shades of gray" guy he claims at the beginning of the piece and is invulnerable to the HATERZ response*, so… yeah. This is a big deal.
*[Except he's not because people who say HATERZ cannot be dissuaded from saying HATERZ.]
We're going to kill you for your attempted help. If you thought it would be bad news for the lawyer who tipped Tressel off, you're right:
Cicero, a walk-on player at Ohio State in the early 1980s, said he has received a few death threats this week. Tressel became an assistant coach at Ohio State during Cicero's senior year in 1983.
"I'm not the Judas in this situation, you know. I feel like Peter, but I'm not the Judas," Cicero said.
This isn't LOLOHIO. After watching the Fab Five documentary I'm sure there are Michigan fans scribbling out racist letters to Jalen Rose who would be happy to forward along a death threat to any Michigan equivalent of Cicero. I mention it just because everyone saw this coming despite Cicero's obvious affection for the program. Actually, wait—I just remembered Ryan Hamby got death threats for dropping a pass. Scratch that. Resume LOLOHIO.
Cicero has some harsher words, too, for the guy who turned his effort to help into a major scandadl.
Playoff one, playoff two, playoff three. Doc Sat has also provided his official playoff proposal, one that hews fairly close to the one I keep pushing. (Also there's a long post aimed at a playoff skeptic if anyone's interested in the philosophical reasons.) Mine is built around a restricted field of six teams, no autobids, byes, and home games. His is built around a slightly less restricted field of ten teams, autobids, byes, and home games.
I like mine better—which is why it's mine—because I'd rather live in a world where this year's UConn team isn't a lamb to be slaughtered when a small field is necessarily going to leave some teams with a vague chance of winning the whole thing out. DocSat's still grasps the three-point tao of a college football playoff:
- Reward in-season success more heavily than most playoffs do by having byes and allow teams to play at home.
- Restrict the size of the field so 9-3 teams are told to GTFO.
- Create a system that guarantees the last team standing also has the best resume.
The more I think about that last one the more I think it would be hard to create a playoff that didn't do this as long as you kept the field relatively small, but the byes and home games aid greatly.
The gun. Every time I start talking about what Michigan's offense is going to look like under Al Borges it comes back to one simple question: they can't really put Denard under center, can they? They can, it seems, but they won't all the time:
Q: How do you tweak the offense to suit Denard Robinson’s strengths?
A: We’re a pro-style offense. We’re not going to be shotgun every play. But we’ll probably favor a little more gun now than we did last year at State, and we ran quite a bit of shotgun last year.
But because of him, and some of the things you can do in the gun with him, we’ll be in a little more gun than we have in the past. But to say we’re going to be a gun team? No, we’re going to line up under center and come downhill on our runs.
Operating from behind center with Denard limits his running to Incredibly Surprising QB Draws, Incredibly Surprising Bootleg Passes, and scrambles Denard almost refused to take last year. It's hard to see how Michigan gets Robinson the thousand yards rushing Borges said they'd like from him unless they use the gun plenty, and it's good to see something explicit saying they will.
I bet people don't like going under center and in crunch time it's an offense that looks quite a bit like last year's—remember the read option was not a huge feature.
Elsewhere in that Q&A from the luncheon, Borges repeats the thing about getting Robinson prepared for the NFL that we've heard since the new guys arrived. This I don't like so much. I don't care if Robinson impresses NFL scouts with his footwork on a seven-step drop for many reasons. It doesn't win football games, for one. For two, NFL scouts won't care how impressive his footwork is because he'll be a wide receiver on draft boards. He's 5'11" tops. He's not playing quarterback in the NFL unless he turns into Lightspeed Drew Brees, and while I love Denard in a way Leviticus (PAYNE) would disapprove of that's highly unlikely.
Boo. Bruins Draft watch scouts 2012 hockey commit Boo Nieves:
…excellent NHL prospect given his natural size, skating and offensive skills. At 6-3, 185 has the frame to be an attractive option in the pros when he fills out. Outstanding skater who accelerates quickly and is extremely agile and elusive. Explosive burst and separation gear; can turn defenders easily as he attacks with speed to the outside and isn't afraid to go into traffic. Excellent stickhandler; confident with the puck and wants it on his stick. Highly creative and just seems to have a knack for making plays all over the offensive zone.
There's a couple paragraphs more at the link; the upshot is that Nieves is a potential first rounder if he continues playing the way he is even if he sticks around prep school for another year instead of heading to the USHL or (guh) OHL. Michigan wouldn't mind that since Matt Herr is his coach.